Ed Driscoll

Frank Rich And The Paranoid Center

We’ve already referenced Frank Rich’s “Stalinist” article this past weekend, but found via Moe Lane, Matt Welch packs several great observations regarding Rich’s paranoid style in his post at Reason titled, ““Frank Rich: Only Stalinists Use Words Like ‘Stalinist'”:


One of Jesse Walker’s most interesting observations in his already-classic October piece on “The Paranoid Center” is that, in a direct inversion of Richard Hofstadter’s theory, the establishmentarians who try to scare us about the terribly dangerous fringe end up aping the tactics and even language of the people they so loathe. New York Times columnist Frank Rich, whose commentary about the political right this year has been among the very stupidest in a remarkably dull-witted season, manages to go one step further: In an op-ed on New York’s Dictrict 23 congressional election, Rich embodies Walker’s observation at the exact same time as quoting Hofstadter’s. Check it out:

[T]he electoral math is less interesting than the pathology of this movement. Its antecedent can be found in the early 1960s, when radical-right hysteria carried some of the same traits we’re seeing now: seething rage, fear of minorities, maniacal contempt for government, and a Freudian tendency to mimic the excesses of political foes. Writing in 1964 of that era’s equivalent to today’s tea party cells, the historian Richard Hofstadter observed that the John Birch Society’s “ruthless prosecution” of its own ideological war often mimicked the tactics of its Communist enemies.

The same could be said of Beck, Palin and their acolytes. Though they constantly liken the president to various totalitarian dictators, it is they who are re-enacting Stalinism in full purge mode.

How do you even get to a place like that?

For those of you keeping metaphorical score at home: Stalin’s Great Purge (just to name his most famous one) included roughly 1,000 executions a day, over two years. The alleged Glenn Beck/Sarah Palin purge, meanwhile, has resulted…brace yourself…in a moderate Republican suspending her campaign for Congress to make way for a conservative independent. Yeah, totally the same.


Heh.™ Meanwhile, CNN, which in the 1980s could arguably have been said to have represented the center, continues its ideological drift leftward: note the photo accompanying the article on today’s elections and how it dovetails with their previous narrative regarding the Tea Party movement, and check out this conversation between CNN’s Roland Martin and Mark Williams of the Tea Party Express:

Martin went on to claim during the second segment that the Tea Party movement and their fellow travelers sought to make the GOP “fringe” right. Williams immediately replied to the charge: “Roland, since when is believing in the Constitution a fringe?” The two engaged in a back-and-forth for most of the second segment.

MARTIN: We’re seeing right now moderate and conservative Democrats playing a huge role in the changing of the health care bill in Congress. The point there is this here. You have folks like Mark who also- talk about the left being radicalized- you have people who want to radicalize the right. The point is this here. You can’t have people who are not from the fringes of both parties represent a party. So, conservative and moderate Democrats play a crucial role.

WILLIAMS: Roland, since when is believing in the Constitution a fringe?

MARTIN: Mark, Mark, Mark- you are not going to have a strong Republican Party nationally-

WILLIAMS: How does that make me a fringe? I believe in the Constitution. I don’t believe in socialism.

MARTIN: Mark, Mark, Mark- let me finish.

WILLIAMS: That makes me a fringe?

MARTIN: Mark, let me finish-

WILLIAMS: I’ll wear that label proudly.

MARTIN: Mark, let me finish. I believe in the Constitution as well. But the point is this here. You cannot have a truly national party if you are pushing people out that you simply disagree with.

COOPER: Mark, what about that idea of the big tent for the Republican Party? I mean, years ago, there used to be a lot of talk about wanting the Republican Party to be a big tent. Does that- from your vantage point, is that a negative thing, because it- you believes it waters down-

WILLIAMS: No, not at all, not at all. America is a huge tent. But this vile ideology of collectivism, the ideology of Marx and Lenin over that of Thomas Jefferson-

MARTIN: Oh, come on.


Rev. Wright, whom Martin endorsed proudly on air last year for CNN, (before going on to use the “Teabagger” slur this year) could not be reached for comment.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member